Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Thursday, October 23, 2014



Talk about an evening to remember! It began with a private concert featuring the choir from the Accademia di Santa Cecilia. Since 1585, they have dazzled Romans with their symphonic brilliance. Next, guests were served fancy cocktails and light refreshments. Then, a formal gala dinner was served by tuxedo clad waitstaff. While this may seem like a common evening in the Italian capital, the setting on Saturday night was unbelievable. This event took place in the Sistine Chapel under Michelangelo's famous frescoes.

See, this is the first time in the 541 year history of the famed chapel that it has been rented out for a private event. The Sistine was built by the forward-looking Pope Sixtus IV. He envisioned a stupendous 'House of God' to serve as the primary center of worship for the clergy of the Holy See. To accomplish his dream, the Pope rounded up the most innovative artists of the day. Botticelli, Raphael and Michelangelo were summoned to Rome to create an artistic masterpiece. They succeeded. A visit to the Sistine Chapel is truly unforgettable.

Oops. Back to Saturday's party. Here are the details. Forty wealthy members of the Porsche Travel Club paid five thousand Euros each for the honor to attend. Papal authorities did not disclose the amount the luxury car company paid to rent the world famous building, but it did announce where these profits were going. Monsignor Paolo Nicolini told reporters "The Pope's charity projects with the poor and homeless" would recieve all of Porsche's donations.

While many are cheering Pope Francis and his 'Robin Hood' tactics of taking from the wealthy to give to the needy, historians are concerned. The bottom line is that leasing out sanctified structures for money is a touchy subject. It reminds us of when Pope Leo X routinely administered 'indulgences' in return for monetary support. This is what started the whole Reformation. A church that could be bought is not holy.

For the time being, the Papacy is not planning any more private parties in the Sistine Chapel. But stay tuned for more 'Action from the Vatican' coming soon to the DUNER BLOG. In his first twenty months as pope, Francis has lived up to his moniker as the "People's Pope.' Such unfathomable issues as homosexuality, priest celibacy, abortion and birth control have all been part of the dialogue. His goal of modernizing the antiquated institution is much needed. We just hope none of the Renaissance frescoes get damaged in any upcoming "Papal Raves"

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